The former navigation officer who was in charge of the Queen of the North ferry when it struck an island and sank sobbed in a Vancouver court during his second day of testimony.

On Monday, Karl Lilgert, who is being tried on two counts of criminal negligence causing death, testified about encountering difficulties with the radar systems on the bridge as a squall came up just after midnight on March 22, 2006.

He said he decided to make a course change to avoid a tug towing logs, and then made another course adjustment after he saw a small boat on the radar, and a steady white light on the water when he looked out the window.

The last thing Lilgert told the court Monday was that after he went back to the radar screen for a better picture, he caught a glimpse of trees out of the corner of his eye.

On Tuesday, he continued his story. Lilgert started crying when he told the court how he was horrified when he looked up and saw trees.

The ferry moved closer to Gil Island, and he asked the quartermaster, Karen Briker, to make a course change.

Lilgert said his heart sank when Briker declared she didn't know how to make the course correction.

Lilgert said that for a moment, as he watched the trees slide by outside the window, he thought that maybe they would still be OK. He said he doesn't remember feeling the ship hit the rocks.


Two passengers were never accounted for after the Queen of the North sank off Gil Island. (CBC)

Lilgert repeated previous testimony, saying he made a course change earlier in the evening after seeing another small boat on the water. But no record of this course change could be found in the ship's logs or the ferry's black box.

He broke down again as he recalled discussions around passenger counts after the ferry had gone under.

Lilgert said he remembers hearing the count of the rescued being 102.

"I was relieved that we had everyone," he told the court.

But the count was wrong, and two people were missing.

The bodies of passengers Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, of 100 Mile House, B.C., were never found and the two are presumed to have drowned in the sinking.

Lilgert told the court that the crash and his subsequent firing ruined his life, destroyed his marriage and forced him to move inland, giving up his passion for the sea. 

With files from the CBC's Belle Puri, Terry Donnelly, and Greg Rasmussen